London on Foot

After a mostly sleepless night, we began our morning with our hotel’s “full English Breakfast.” It included six pieces of toast, a strawberry yogurt, and four cereal options, with an automatic espresso and juice machine.

After getting cleaned up and formulating a day plan, we headed out…then immediately turned around to fetch gloves and a winter coat. London is cooler than it seems at first.

First stop: Buckingham Palace. There were horses, but no visible fuzzy-hatted guards (we’d apparently missed the daily changing of the guard, which occurs at 11:00.) Shockingly, the mounted police take no concern with photos and tourists petting their horses. The tourists took less concern than they probably ought too. It was big, and grand, and busy, and crowded.

The grounds of the mounted guard-change

The park beside it is big, green, vast, and nearly empty. We wandered The Queen’s Gallery gift-shop and then more architecturally impressive buildings, after winding our way around St. James’s Park Lake our way to lunch at Café Concerto, near to the Household Cavalry Museum. It was delightful and even more delightfully affordable (granted, I come from LA standards.) We definitely over-ordered for lunch, expecting the portions to be smaller. With a salad and soup for my(rather-peckish-at-this-point)self, and a seabass for my mum we were stuffed. Only now, around ten hours later, am I hungry again. Anyway, if you go, try the “Chef’s Specials” they were good, and cheaper than the full menu by a few pound each. I saw the caprese salad delivered to another table, and wished I’d ordered that instead. at 5.5 a piece, the soup of the day and caprese salad would each individually serve as a perfect light-lunch option; to me that’s a steal! Plus, the service and ambiance were on point.

We followed up lunch with a drizzly walk to Big Ben, then headed across the bridge as the gray skies gave way for a bit of blue to peer through. By halfway through our ride on the London Eye the clouds had returned, and brought with them rains.

Exiting the Eye, we headed back across the bridge for some more gift-shop-window-shopping and sight seeing at Westminster. “Happy Hour” caught my mothers eye, so we stopped into Low, Slow & Juke for a couple of their 5pound cocktail-du-jour: Hendricks Blackberry Cucumber Smash. They were delicious, our bartender was laidback and friendly (like most Londoners we’ve encountered. At the risk of generalizing, they are rather a nice bunch as far as I’m concerned thus far.) We decided to head home before this Wednesday night’s live band arrived, as it was getting dark on our first night walking back to the hotel, but it certainly seems like a chill spot for a night out!

I’m still fighting the time change, with serious sleepiness kicking in around 2pm, and wakefulness at 2am.

Tomorrow, it looks like a duck tour is the plan with a night out to follow, hopefully my clock will have had a chance to reset by then!

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